F1Weekly podcast # 700

CLARK AND NASIR BRING YOU OUR SEVEN HUNDREDTH ATTEMPT AT DOING A MOTORSPORTS PODCAST, WE HAVE ANOTHER EPISODE OF LOOSH ON THE LOOSE! AND AN INTERVIEW WITH TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL USF2000 RACE CAR DRIVER AYLA AGREN.

Ayla has been driving since she was 7 years old. She started driving go-karts and has competed in the World, European, Dutch, German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian Championships. In addition, she also competed in the European leading karting series called WSK. 2012 was her first season in Open Wheel racing, where she competed in the Skip Barber summer series, bringing home 4 podiums.

Just from looking at her, you may think that Ayla Agren is no different from your typical 21 year old girl. But behind the blonde hair and blue eyes lies a burning desire to be the best, no matter what it takes. No ordinary teenage girl would leave the comfort of home to go over 5,000 miles away and pursue the sport of professional auto racing, unless there was a true desire, and talent, to make it to the top.

In addition to her talent on track, Ayla is also a full time student and will commence her last year of University this spring. She also works with several organizations in Norway to educate youth on defensive driving.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/03-26-16f1weekly700.mp3]

WTCC

THE 2016 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP BEGINS AT THE PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT,a happy hunting ground for the Citroën Total. For the final season of its track racing adventure, the two-time World Champion team is lining up two Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs on the grid, with José María López and Yvan Muller the men at the wheel. The Argentine and the Frenchman, who between them have claimed six of the last eight titles awarded in the competition, will be looking to continue their winning streak!

As in 2014, the FIA World Touring Car Championship gets under way at the majestic Paul Ricard Circuit. After a four-month hiatus, which the teams spent fine-tuning their cars, the moment of truth has come!

By winning 92% of the pole positions and 81% of the races contested over the last two seasons, Citroën Total has made itself the team to beat. As the aggressive new livery of the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC shows, the team will be fighting hard to retain that status in 2016!

To do so, they will have to overcome regulations designed to handicap the reigning World Champion manufacturer. The Citroën cars will carry 80 kg of ballast in the first two meetings of the season, before a rebalancing based on results. Other changes that will force the team to adapt its strategy include the reverse grid for the opening race and the MAC3 (“Manufacturers Against the Clock”) contest to be held after qualifying.

Over the winter, the engineers and drivers worked on some subtle technical improvements. The most visible are in the car’s aerodynamics, with a redesigned front end. Citroën Racing is also counting on its finely honed knowledge of the car and the range of setups available, as well as the healthy rivalry between José María López and Yvan Muller, to help it fulfil its potential. More than ever, team spirit will be crucial to success!

Team spirit is a quality shared by the drivers of the three cars competing for Sébastien Loeb Racing. In his second season in a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, Mehdi Bennani will be setting the standard for Tom Chilton and Grégoire Demoustier. All three will be competing in the WTCC Trophy, which is for private drivers only. 

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

Yves Matton (Team Principal, Citroën Racing): “With several big-name drivers switching teams and a new manufacturer in the mix, this FIA WTCC season looks set to be open and closely contested. We are delighted about that, but we will still be aiming to claim as many wins as we possibly can and to retain our Manufacturers and Drivers titles! Our team also has a new look, with two official Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs and three private cars. Alongside Pechito and Yvan, we will be counting on Mehdi, Tom and Grégoire to notch up plenty of points, both in MAC3 and in the races. Results in testing aren’t the be-all and end-all, but it is worth noting that we did clock the seven fastest times over eight sessions in Vallelunga. That was doubtless no accident, but testament to the work the whole team put in over the winter. I hope we leave the Paul Ricard Circuit with a convincing result: in other words, a win!”

José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 37): “I’m really excited about beginning a new season. It’s one of my favourite times of the year! After all the work we have done in recent months, the slate has been wiped clean and we can’t wait to see how we measure up against the competition. The only thing I know for sure is that we have put in some great work. But we’ll have to wait for qualifying, when everyone will put on new tyres at the same time, to get a real idea of the hierarchy. The 80kg of ballast will certainly be a big handicap, and might cost us over a second a lap on some circuits. It’s going to be tough, but we’re prepared for it. I am also really happy to be starting the season in France. It’s like a second home meeting for me! The team has fond memories of Paul Ricard, having won all four races we have competed in here. My win in 2014, when I recovered from last place, remains one of the best of my career!”

Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 68): “I haven’t competed for four months. That’s too long for me! I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of my Citroën C-Elysée WTCC for a racing weekend. We don’t know yet how good our rivals are, but we will definitely suffer during the first two meetings. Any predictions at this stage are based solely on speculation. A win might be hard to achieve, but we need to do the best we can and see how the pecking order stands. Like the whole team, I am always enthusiastic about coming back to Paul Ricard. In the eighties, I used to come and watch the F1 Grand Prix from the stands, and this is where I took part in my first single-seater race back in 1988! Since then, I think I’ve driven on every track layout and in every kind of car!”

WEC

TWO ALPINE A460 PROTOTYPES HUNTING FOR SUCCESS IN 2016 FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Alpine has revealed the two Alpine A460s that will contest the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
  • Alpine’s two crews (N°35: Panciatici / Cheng / Tung, N°36: Lapierre / Menezes / Richelmi) have their sights set on LMP2 victory.
  • Signatech-Alpine to make its first public appearance of 2016 at Le Castellet, France, which is hosting a two-day pre-season test for all registered teams (March 25-26).

Signatech-Alpine today took the wraps off its two Alpine A460s at Le Castellet, France.
The name of the new prototype continues the series which began with the A440 in the 1970s and which echoes Alpine’s 60th anniversary celebrations of 2015.

With new LM P2 regulations due to come into force in 2017, the Alpine A460 features a new FIA-homologated chassis. Compared with its predecessor, it has a closed cockpit for enhanced driver safety and aerodynamic efficiency. It is the first closed-cockpit Alpine since the A220 of 1969.

The Alpine A460 is powered by the same 4.5-litre V8 as the A450b. This Renault-Nissan Alliance engine delivers more than 550 horsepower and drives through a six-speed sequential gearbox.

The two Alpine A460s were unveiled alongside the Alpine Vision and Alpine Célébration show cars and sport a blue and orange livery, the colours chosen by Alpine since its motor racing comeback in 2013. The cars will be distinguishable by national flags: French for the N°36 prototype, and Chinese for the N°35 prototype.

The latter (entered under the name of Baxi DC Racing Alpine) will be in the hands of Frenchman Nelson Panciatici – a cornerstone of the team since the programme’s early days in 2013 – and Chinese drivers David Cheng and Ho-Pin Tung. Formed by SR-Jackie Chan and David Cheng, DC Racing won several Asian Le Mans Series titles before joining forces for the 2016 FIA WEC campaign with Signatech-Alpine who will run the programme’s technical, sporting and logistical sides.

The N°36 car – the number which claimed back-to-back ELMS crowns in 2013 and 2014, as well as a top-three finish in the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2014 – will be shared by three newcomers to the Alpine fold, namely Frenchman Nicolas Lapierre, the USA’s Gustavo Menezes and Monegasque Stéphane Richelmi.

Both Alpine drivers and cars will be treated fairly, whatever will be the best performant crew. And may the best Alpine wins!

Being able to run two top-flight crews will allow Signatech-Alpine to step up its ambitions for its second season in endurance racing’s premier series. After winning last year’s 6 Hours of Shanghai and coming fourth in the 2015 FIA WEC (LMP2), the team is looking to continue to make progress with two cars capable of challenging for victory at every round.

Tomorrow will see Signatech-Alpine join the rest of the 2016 FIA WEC field for a two-day test ahead of the championship’s opening round, namely the 6 Hours of Silverstone in Great Britain on April 15-17.

Bernard Ollivier, Deputy Managing Director, Alpine:“After claiming back-to-back titles in the European Le Mans Series in 2013 and 2014, Signatech-Alpine showcased its professionalism and potential at world level in 2015 and has set its sights higher still in 2016. This year, the team is contesting the FIA World Endurance Championship with two new A460 prototypes – one of which will be run in association with the Chinese outfit DC Racing – and a line-up of six talented drivers. Under the leadership of Philippe Sinault, Signatech-Alpine will continue to fuel the passion of Alpine fans worldwide.”

Philippe Sinault, Team Principal, Signatech-Alpine:“Alpine’s commitment to endurance racing is being stepped up year after year. Last season, our first at FIA WEC level, was marked by a class win at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. This year, as we seek to add to our record, there is much about the team that is new, from our driver line-up and cars to the way we are organised. We are proud to have forged an association with DC Racing which means we are able to run two A460s. This is an obvious advantage and opens up fresh opportunities in terms of race strategy. It’s now down to us to harness all this potential to achieve even more success for Alpine.”

GP3

FUOCO FASTEST ON DAY TWO IN ESTORIL
Italian tops both morning and afternoon pre-season test
Trident and Ferrari Driver Academy’s Antonio Fuoco was quickest in both sessions on the second day of pre-season testing at Circuito Estoril in Portugal. The Italian driver’s best lap time of 1:27.991 set in the morning was two tenths quicker than ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon. Fuoco again headed the timesheet in the afternoon, this time just 0.062s clear of Arden International’s Jack Aitken.
Clouds and cooler temperatures greeted the paddock for testing but importantly the track was dry following overnight rain. DAMS’ Kevin Jörg and Jenzer Motorsport’s Oscar Tunjo set the early pace before Aitken was first to lap in the 1m29s. The times soon improved to 1m28s with Aitken again on top, ahead of Albon and Fuoco at the midway point of the session.
At the start of the final hour, birthday boy Albon bettered Aitken’s laptime by 0.022s to take P1 as the field concentrated on perfecting their set-ups and focusing on longer runs. Fuoco found some extra pace to dip into the 1m27s as the clock ticked down.
At the chequered flag Fuoco remained unchallenged in the 1m27s ahead of Albon, Aitken, Jake Hughes, Nirei Fukuzumi, Charles Leclerc, Nyck de Vries, Tunjo, Alex Palou and Jörg.
The afternoon session commenced after a two hour lunch break as the sun continued to shine down on the track. DAMS’ and Haas F1 Team development driver Santino Ferrucci led the way early on ahead of Jake Dennis and Jörg. Aitken headed to the top of the timesheet at the midway point before his teammate Tatiana Calderon lapped three tenths faster to go P1.
Trident’s Artur Janosz was first to break into the 1m28s in the afternoon before a flurry of changes at the top of the timesheet saw Dennis and Aitken hold an Arden one-two ahead of Ferrucci, Ralph Boschung and Janosz.  The session was halted briefly after a quick spin for Mahaveer Raghunathan, and with 25 minutes left on the clock the session resumed.
There was a second red flag when Leclerc stopped on track with 10 minutes to go. At the re-start, Fuoco was on another flier to take top spot with Aitken 0.062s shy of the Italian’s best effort. At the chequered flag behind Fuoco and Aitken were Janosz, Dennis, de Vries, Matthew Parry, Jörg, Ferrucci, Tunjo and Boschung.

GP3

FUKUZUMI FASTEST ON DAY ONE IN ESTORIL
ART Grand Prix rookie leads the way in pre-season testing

The 2016 season officially got underway today with day one of pre-season testing at the Circuito Estoril in Portugal. Three days of testing will take place here this week following the successful shakedown of the new GP3/16 car earlier this month. Japanese Nirei Fukuzumi posted the quickest time of the day which was set in the afternoon with a 1:28.645. Dutchman Steijn Schothorst was quickest in the morning session.
Following rain overnight, the track was wet at the start of the session, but with clear skies and the temperature gradually warming up, it wasn’t long before all the drivers switched to the slick Pirelli tyre.
In the opening hour, six drivers had posted a laptime – with the rest completing an installation lap. There was an early stoppage after Arden International’s Tatiana Calderon stopped on track with technical gremlins. Once the session resumed, DAMS’ rookie Jake Hughes went fastest lapping in the 1m31s.
There was a second red flag after Campos Racing’s Konstantin Tereshchenko ran off into the gravel. The track was green soon after with Hughes improving on his personal best to lap in the 1m30s. Albon displaced the Brit to head the timesheet at the start of the final hour until Jake Dennis bettered his time by two tenths to go top.
With three minutes left on the clock, Schothorst was first to dip into the 1m29s barrier to finish the morning session in P1 ahead of Dennis, Albon, Santino Ferrucci, Alex Palou, Matthew Parry, Fukuzumi, Jake Hughes, Ralph Boschung and Konstantin Tereshchenko.
Following a two hour lunch break, the afternoon session commenced in very high winds. It was Charles Leclerc who was fastest out of the blocks in the 1m30s before Albon lapped in the 1m29s ahead of Hughes and Kevin Jörg. It was an ART GP one-two when Leclerc shot up to P2 behind his Thai teammate, with Trident’s Giuliano Alesi and Artur Janosz completing the top five.
It was all change at the front as the clock ticked down – Parry broke into the 1m28s to take P1, ahead of Jenzer Motorsport’s Oscar Tunjo and Koiranen GP’ Ralph Boschung. The third red flag of the day was due to Tereshchenko stopping on track. Once his car was swiftly returned to the pitlane there was a frenetic end to the session. Fukuzumi flew to the top of the standings, a mere 0.015s ahead of Dennis, with his time unbeaten at the chequered flag. Albon, Leclerc, Jack Aitken, Hughes, Parry, Palou, Jörg, and Tunjo rounded out the top ten.

FORMULA 1

NICO WINS, HAMILTON CLIMES BACK TO TAKE SECOND, FERNANDO SURVIVES A HORRIFIC CRASH.

A bad start dropped Hamilton from pole to sixth but he fought to take second. Rosberg took advantage when the race was stopped following Alonso’s high-speed barrel-roll to switch strategy and overhaul early leader Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel’s strategy gamble on super-soft tyres mid-race failed and he took third ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Trying to pass the Mexican on the run down to Turn Three, Alonso’s front right wheel tagged the right rear of the Haas and he was launched into a barrel roll, coming to rest upside down in the barriers.

The two-time champion was clearly shaken but, although he limped away from his car, he was uninjured.

For the re-start, Ferrari chose to keep Vettel on the fast but fragile super-soft tyres he had fitted at his first pit stop, while Mercedes switched Rosberg from soft to medium tyres with the aim of going to the end without another stop.

From that moment on, the race was Rosberg’s barring problems. He merely had to hang on to Vettel and wait for the Ferrari to stop, which he did on lap 35.

Because of new restrictions on radio transmissions, Rosberg was unaware of potential problems with overheating brakes and excessive wear on his left rear tyre. But, while on the edge, both issues stayed under control until the end of the race.